Colabello’s career day powers Twins past White Sox
Chris Colabello was the International League’s Most Valuable Player in 2013, and the longtime minor leaguer turned that into a trip to the majors last year. Despite the success Colabello had at Triple-A Rochester, he wasn’t able to replicate it with Minnesota in his first season in the big leagues.
"Both teams were giving everything they had trying to win that ballgame," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Fortunately we came out on top with some big hits. Neither team really gave up. That was, I say, a really fun baseball game, but one of those that also kind of wears you out."
Colabello’s best game as a major leaguer prior to Wednesday came on Sep. 2 of last season when he drove in five runs on a pair of homers. As was the case in the Twins’ win Wednesday, Colabello’s previous career-high five RBI also helped spark a Minnesota victory.
He bested that mark Wednesday thanks to a pair of doubles as well as a groundout that also scored a run. Colabello’s first hit of the game came in the top of the third inning. With the Twins trailing 1-0, Colabello stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. On an 0-2 pitch from White Sox starter Jose Quintana, Colabello sent a line drive to right field that Chicago’s Avisail Garcia couldn’t make a play on. The ball rolled past Garcia as Eduardo Escobar, Brian Dozier and Josh Willingham all came around to score, as the Twins took a 3-1 lead.
Two innings later, Colabello helped pad Minnesota’s lead with yet another run-producing two-strike double. Facing Quintana for the third time in the game, Colabello again doubled to right field — this time over the head of Garcia — as Joe Mauer and Willingham both scored for a 5-1 lead.
"I think with two strikes, it’s important and something I really focused on," Colabello said. "Both the hits today were with two strikes, and the other RBI was with two strikes. I’m just trying to battle, trying to help this team any way I can."
That advantage Colabello gave Minnesota would eventually evaporate as Chicago rallied to take an 8-5 lead in the seventh inning. Colabello helped the Twins chip away at that deficit with his sixth RBI of the day. His roller to the shortstop plated Dozier to trim it to an 8-6 White Sox lead. Minnesota scored another run later in the seventh, one in the eighth and two in the ninth to escape Chicago with a win after a crazy 10-9 ballgame.
"Even though the weather was a factor, it was a great baseball game," Colabello said. "Certainly early in the year, obviously to battle the way we did, come out with a win, get out of here with a ‘W’ rather than get swept, down to our last strike, that’s an awesome team win."
While Colabello exhibited power in the minor leagues last year — he hit 24 home runs and 25 doubles in 89 games in Rochester — he finished with seven home runs and just three doubles in 160 at-bats with the Twins. He nearly matched his doubles total from a year ago in Wednesday’s game and already has three doubles in three games this year.
Many fans wondered if Minnesota’s offense would be able to score many runs this year. Outside of perennial All-Star Joe Mauer, there were plenty of question marks in the lineup.
That included Colabello, who had yet to prove himself at the major league level despite a successful year in the minors. It’s certainly a small sample size of just three games, but the way Colabello has started his 2014 campaign is perhaps a sign that he’ll be a bat the Twins can rely on to contribute.
"Huge, and fortunately it was enough," Gardenhire said of Colabello’s six RBI. "Two teams really getting after it there. A lot of crazy things happened. Fortunately we came out on top.
FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.
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